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Goddard: Time to go on offense against Mexican cartels

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Goddard: Time to go on offense against Mexican cartels

  • Jack Dempsey fights Jess Willard in 1919.

Jack Dempsey, the 1920's heavyweight boxing champ, helped popularize the adage, "The best defense is a good offense." I'm reminded of these words as Arizona considers its next steps in the wake of Judge Bolton's ruling on SB 1070.

Arizona will appeal, but all agree this is just the beginning of what will be a long legal process. Our state's needs are more urgent. We need to go on the offensive to fight border crime and solve the problem of illegal immigration now.

Even SB 1070's supporters agree it was a defensive measure - targeting illegal immigrants who have already made it into Arizona.  The law would do nothing to stop future illegal border crossers. Nor would it do anything to fight the organized criminals smuggling drugs and people across the border.

Similarly, the many calls to "secure the border" - without defining what it means - are also unproductive.While I have demanded more federal resources for our border (including federal reimbursement of Arizona's costs in dealing with illegal immigration), I recognize that defensive measures are not enough.

To effectively stop illegal immigration and other border crimes, we need to go on offense.

We must take the battle to the organized criminals most responsible for bringing humans and drugs across our border illegally - the Mexican smuggling cartels.  We must target their leadership and dismantle their organizations. Our border will not be secure as long as they are so deeply entrenched, are so well-funded and operate so brazenly.

I have been calling on the president and Congress to hit the cartels in Mexico with decisive, overwhelming and binational force. 

Why?  Here are three reasons: One, eliminating the cartels would substantially reduce illegal immigration.  Human smuggling is a major line of cartel business. It is extremely hard to cross the border these days without help from the cartels' network of armed escorts, scouts and intelligence.

Two, the cartels have become more highly organized, more technologically sophisticated, more ruthless andmore powerful. Their reign of terror has killed more than 22,700 people in Mexico in the last three years alone. 

Three, cartel presence in the United States is increasing.  The U.S. Department of Justice now estimates the cartels operate in more than 200 American cities.  While cartel violence has largely remained south of our border, the willingness of cartel warlords to kill in pursuit of profits has caused Attorney General Holder to correctly label the cartels "a national security threat."

One clear way for the federal government to go on offense is to follow the money. A new report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) recommends federal agencies adopt my investigative techniques to disrupt the flood of cash from wire transfers to the cartels. The report explains how the work I have done in Arizona has interrupted cartel cash flow and how similar federal action along the entire southwest border could be even more effective.

Finally, Arizona must go on offense for federal immigration reform. Judge Bolton told the federal government that immigration is their job. Now more than ever, Arizona must insist that they do it.  We have a delegation capable of leading an offensive charge for federal reform. It is time for that delegation to put aside partisanship and do it.

They would make Jack Dempsey - and all of us - proud.

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